Thinking of finally going on your first trekking trip? Here is some food for thought!
Being able to boast about completing a trek in the shadow of the world’s tallest mountains is enough motivation for any avid hiker. You don’t need to be an experienced hiker or seasoned world traveler. If you are in good shape, love to walk, have an open mind to different cultures and sense of adventure, you can make this dream a reality!
1. Start off easy.
It may sound exotic to do a 16-day trek to Everest Base Camp but if this your first time traveling to a Third World country or taking on an extended hiking trip, it may be best to start off easy. We frequently suggest that people opt for a shorter trek beginning in the lower altitude Annapurna region. You’ll find some days challenging, as there are hours of uphill and then downhill walking, but the plentiful supply of oxygen, beautiful farming villages and spectacular mountain vistas more than makes up for the physical effort.
2. Use a tour company or go independent?
There are many opinions on this: should one do trek with or without guide? Even for the most independent souls using a tour company will save you time, frustration and (with the right company) a peace of mind that all of your arrangements will be made as expected. A reputable tour operator will provide an English-speaking local guide and porter support team. In the Everest and Annapurna areas you will meet many people (mostly younger) on the trail that are trekking on their own and that’s great! But, in an experienced guide, you will not only gain a new friend but someone to facilitate logistics and introduce you to the little known about and seldom visited secrets of the area. In most cases you guide is from the area you are trekking and knows the villagers, who are very likely to invite you inside their homes for a cup of tea.
In addition to your trekking guide, you will also be accompanied by a porter(s) who carry all your belongings except for your day pack which you carry. At first this traditional way of traveling may make you uncomfortable, but the use of porters is a great way to employ more local people and provide them with a relatively very good income. How does it work? Before leaving on the trek, you will be provided a duffle bag where you can store all belongings needed for the trek. Your porter carries it each day to your next lodge or camp. Porters will often walk way ahead of you as they’re much quicker and already know the route. He will almost always arrive first at the lodge and can make sure to secure you with the best available room. Ok, speaking of the lodges …
3. Trekking lodges.
Depending on the region you end up trekking in, the accommodation will range from very basic teahouses, to comfortable family-run lodges to corporate owned luxury lodges. Lodge trekking in Nepal is available on most trekking routes in the Everest, Annapurna and Langtang regions. Don’t expect Western-standard rooms, bathrooms or amenities. A standard family-run lodge will offer a comfortable room (typically no heater), a variety of healthy and hot food choices and a great place to meet other trekkers from around the world and amazing views. Most rooms include a wooden bed frame(s) with a mattress, small table and lamp. On a late fall trek it can get cold at night, so a sleeping bag with a provided heavy blanket will keep you warm and cozy.
Tip: The mornings can be cold, so keep your clothes you want to wear the next morning inside your sleeping bag. This way you avoid putting on freezing clothes in the morning.
Most standard lodges are part of a regulated network which means that menus are basically the same at every stop (give or take a few items). Each lodge offers a wide variety of choices and can cater to both vegetarians and meat eaters. If you arrange your trip through a tour operator, your meals are included in the trip price. If you go independent, you’ll soon find out that the higher the elevation, the more expensive the food gets. This makes absolute sense given that all food and bottled drinks need to be carried on the back of a porter through very difficult terrain.
4. Listen to your body.
Regardless of your fitness level, at some point the hike will feel tough. Not many of us are trained to hike multiple days in a row. Your Nepali guide will be keeping a close eye on you and will be there by your side on just about every footstep. He will encourage you to drink and stay well hydrated and also set a comfortable pace for you while stopping frequently to rest and take in the amazing views. You will stop at a lodge every day for lunch, but it’s also a good idea to carry some extra goodies in your day pack to keep energy levels topped off.
5. Don’t buy, rent.
This tip is especially targeted for people needing big ticket items for their trek. Kathmandu and Pokhara have many gear shops offering every bit of clothing and gear you’ll need for a trek. You’ll find (at cheap rental prices) puffy jackets, sleeping bags, mattresses, hiking poles… Renting allows you to simply return items that you may never use again after your trek is over.
6. Other hopefully helpful suggestions.
Ready? Here’s a checklist for other miscellaneous items:
– Bring six (6) passport-sized photos to Nepal for your visa and trekking permits
– Pack with light layers in mind
– Bring some Aquatabs and your own water bottle to have water on the cheap and avoid buying bottled water bottles.
– Dress modestly as you’ll be passing small villages where local customs are still followed
– Photography wise, bring extra memory cards and batteries, a small tripod and an Asian two rounded-prong outlet adapter.
– Wake up early, for every single sunrise. No one does a sunrise right like Nepal!
Have questions? Send us an email or give a call. firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-945-2601.